MILAN – A whole career in blue and black. Piero Ausilio began in Inter’s Youth Sector fifteen years ago before moving up to work with the first team. Today the Nerazzurri sporting director looked back over his years of experience, ideas and projects as he spoke to Sky Sport 24 by telephone.
He started with a comment on the most recent achievement of the Primavera team. "I wouldn’t say it came out of the blue because there was planning behind it. I mentioned before in passing that we have been there or thereabouts for over ten years now contending for titles and sometimes we win them – quite often we win them, considering the 15 or so we’ve picked up in the past ten years. I clearly remember the finals because being involved in six Primavera finals in ten years shows you how much planning, hard work and consistency has gone into this great squad."
"The names are big names and tonight two of them – Bonucci and Balotelli – will be pulling on the Italy shirt at the European Championship, while another six wear the Under-21 shirt. That’s a source of great satisfaction. Soon we hope to see many of them in our first team because that’s our ultimate objective."
On the subject of Mario Balotelli, the Inter sporting director was reminded that it was he who had picked him as a youth: "So they say," he replied with a smile. "I may be one of those who pushed for him but you never discover anything on your own. Behind every young talent discovered there is always a scout who points him out. I might have had the capacity or maybe the luck to have believed in him more than others, but I found a club and a president who have always put their trust in me. What it boils down to is this: we have a president and a club who let us work well, making investments and placing their trust in us and I hope we have been able to pay them back in full."
Moving from the Youth Sector to the first team is a path that Ausilio himself has trodden: "Yes, it’s a path I know well because that’s where I started out. I’ve been at Inter for 15 years and I’ll be here for another three because my contract has just been renewed. It’s quite an achievement, for sure. I’m starting to feel old…"
Going back to the Primavera team members who played a big part in the championship win, Ausilio was asked if Samuele Longo was ready for the first team yet: "We’ll see, he’s young but has grown a lot over the past few years. He has made a lot of sacrifices and shown humility and conviction because he’s perhaps had to work a bit harder than many others who were instant hits in the Primavera championship. He played on loan for a few seasons, first at Piacenza, then at Genoa because he couldn’t manage to break through with us. Unfortunately for him he was in competition with people like Destro and, before him, Balotelli. So I repeat, his path was quite complicated and the fact he is still there shows that he’s a player Inter can count on today, with his great technical, physical and personal qualities and his self-confidence. He’ll go far.
"Does president Preziosi want his half of the player? Inter are not going to give up their half of the player and Genoa know that. The idea is to hold on to 50 percent at least for next season and then decide what the best thing for Samuele is and we’ll talk to him about it too. We would like to be able to count on the lad but we’ll decide on the future when things have quietened down and by planning things well."
It’s only right to concentrate on the youngsters today and on the Nerazzurri’s success in the Primavera league, so you’re not giving anything away about the first team’s transfer dealings this summer, am I correct? "Perfectly correct," replied Ausilio smiling: "There’s nothing really to tell because apart from Guarin and Palacio, who are two great buys for Inter, it’s only 10 June. We have all the time to prepare the team well and we want to make a good job of it. The president has given us ample guarantees and indications and the coach has had time to get to know the squad better, so we’ll try and prepare well for next season both for Europe and the Italian championship."
There is one sensational statistic: looking at the 13 derbies played between Inter and AC Milan in the Giovanissimi and Primavera categories this season, 11 were won by the Nerazzurri and two were draws. So who will win the chase for Acerbi and Silvestre? "For the sake of precision, I’d like to say that the derbies between the youngest categories count too and we have won 18 out of 18 so we didn’t even lose one. As for other matters, there is no derby; there’s no rivalry in the transfer market. We try to find players who will help improve Inter, if it’s one of those [two] we’ll see, but whether AC Milan are interested as well or not is of no concern to us."
As for Sebastian Giovinco, Ausilio explains: "It’s not a firm interest; enquiries have been made and we have spoken with Parma. He’s definitely a good player and has come along a lot in the past few years. We’ve been keeping an eye on him and we’ll see what happens over the next few days but I don’t think I can say we have a firmer interest in him than in others for the time being."
The Lavezzi deal has fallen through and the alternatives could be Brazilian or connected to Giovinco, Ramirez and Gomez: "Well if that’s what you think, let’s hear it. We think we have some ideas, we know all the foreign leagues well, as we are spread out throughout the world. It’s just a question of finding the right one and with the right conditions for buying. We’d like to buy all the best players in the world, but if they are too expensive or aren’t for sale it becomes difficult so it may be better to look for new ideas, something different, maybe someone less well known than the names you mentioned."